Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Let's brew Wednesday - Fullers 1962 OH, X

This Wednesday there's a special treat. A master class in party-gyling. Think you understand party-gyling? Well think again. Here's a clue: it isn't making a different beer out of each running.

The two beers are OH (Old Harry) and X (Mild). Or H, standing for Hock. Fullers were a bit inconsistent, sometimes calling their Mild X and at others H. Though it's now only occasionally brewed, it's the Fullers beer with the longest pedigree, stretching all the way back to the 19th century.

What type of beer was Old Harry? According to the label, an "Extra Brown Ale". (Note that the recipe boasts neither roasted malts nor lashings of hops.) In reality, it's a type of strong Mild.

In this period, Fullers only really had three brews. One was just for their Stout. A second was for all their other dark beers: Strong Ale, Old Burton Extra, Old Harry and X. The last was for all the Bitters: ELP (Export London Pride), LP (London Pride), PA (Bitter) and LA (Light Ale).

Now it's time for Kristen to take control . . . .

Fullers 1962 OH, X
Ok boys, its not Wednesday....Lets Brew Wednesdays are supposed to be on said Wednesday. yes yes I know. Well you are in for a treat. Today I've done a gyle set from the Fullers logs. Its even more special b/c a lot of you older gits were still alive then. Its the OH-X from 1962. This one is a bit more complex as there are mixtures of worts and different amounts of sugars and hops that go into each based on the volume of each. I've broken it down two ways. The straight recipe for the OH and X just making it as a regular beer for you lazy bones. Then as the gyle for both beers for you overachievers.

Grist and such
Wow...9 different ingredients...must be for all the complexity! :) Basically there are 4 different pale malts used and one 6-row for the base malts. Feel free and get creative with the 4 base malts. Mix and match at will. If you want to be lazy and only use one, fine. The 6-row only makes up about 4% of the grist so you if can't find it, this is one recipe that I wouldn't go crazy over not having. The adjuncts make up about 21% of this recipe which is a pretty good amount but not totally overpowering. 10% flaked maize you will definitely get some of that maizy flavor and not just the fermentables. They use 3 different types of sugars across the spectrum of colors. If you have to choose just one sugar I would do the No2 but in a pinch I guess some golden syrup could sub in.

Very straightforward mash. Nothing fancy or complex. Remember that if you are going to do this by the gyle method make sure your hot liquor has a pH around 5.4-5.6. This will ensure you don't pull out any tannic astringency.

Hops are very fresh being about 9 months old. Goldings would do very nicely here but Brewers Gold, Fuggles, etc. Anything that you really like would be fine. There arent a whole lot of hops anyway. I would also dry hop this will probably 1/4oz per 5gal/19L (1oz per bbl/hl).

Gyle breakdown
This is where it can get tricky. Its actually very simple so pay attention. The entire premise to is make two different worts and blend them at different ratios to get the different beers. Each will have a different OG and BU count based on the hop additions. I chose this one as its actually very simple b/c the wort volumes are almost identical so it makes your life easier.

Gyle mashing
This is very simple. One mashes and then sparges the mash to get the volume of the first pre-boil wort based on their systems boil-off percentage. One then continues to sparge the same mash until the second wort is collected using the same parameters as the first.

Gyle worts
This is the heart and soul of gyling. 99% of people don't understand this b/c of all the incorrect blather written on the subject. At this point we treat the different worts as individual beers ONLY until they are boiled. Each are boiled for the indicated amount of time. For this OH-X wort #1 is boiled for 1.5 hours and wort #2 is boiled for 1.25 hours. Most people end here. THIS IS WRONG!!!! The most important step is blending these worts to make the specific beers. I don't know of anyone that does this better than John Keeling at Fullers. Now if he could get the Chiswick to me in Minnesota I would be in heaven! Chop chop John!

Gyle additions
Hops are usually added to each wort based on the lbs/bbl of the total hop lb/ bbl ratio. For this beer the lb/bbl is about 0.58lb which is quite low. As I said before, our beer has equal amounts in both worts so they would get equal amounts of hops. Other beers the ratio in volume can be as high as 1:4 and the hops would get divided this way. Remember also that the lower gravity the wort the more utilization one gets from the hops making them usually quite a bit more bitter. Sugars are added in the same way. Sometimes all go into wort #1, other times they are split. For the OH-X all sugars EXCEPT the No3 goes into wort #1. The No3 is split in half as is called for in the logs.

Gyle blending
This is a straight dilution which would be easy to calculate but you don't have to since the logs do it for you. Ive included a specific breakdown of the different blends. Just for your information, here's an example of the breakdown and the simple calculations involved. Lets use the craft beer 10bbl example shall we?

10bbl Craft beer
Wort 1 = 10bbl @ 1.060
Wort 2 = 10bbl @ 1.009

Blending for OH:
1.6bbl Wort 1
0.42bbl Wort 2
(1.6bbl*60OG + 0.42bbl*9OG)/2.03bbl = ~1.048
(1.6bbl*18bu + 0.42bbl*24bu)/2.03bbl = ~19bu
2.27bbl OH @ 1.048 & 19bu

Blending for X:
8.4bbl Wort 1
9.57bbl Wort 2
(8.4bbl*60bbl + 9.57bbl*9OG)/17.97bbl = ~1.033
(8.4bbl*18bu + 9.57bbl*24bu)/17.97bbl = ~21bu
17.97bbl H @ 1.033 & 21bu

After blending they are fermented separately as their one beers, OH and X.

Tasting Notes
OH - Bready malt. Lady fingers. Light fruit of apples, pears and apricots. Hints of toffee and light caramel. Rich finish for the low gravity.
H - Mostly the same as above. A touch more bitterness and hop character. Seems to be easier to drink and more refreshing.


Gary Gillman said...

Old Harry is still made occasionally. It is sometimes available at the excellent local restaurant (in Toronto), beerbistro. The taste notes by Kirsten describe it well, especially the appley notes, save that in Fuller's current version I also detect notes of raisin and prunes.

I love the Fuller's products but this is one I couldn't quite cotton to.

The name would suggest that it was stocked for some time originally but I agree that a strong mild, with a raisiny twist and some decent hopping, is the best description now.


P.S. Now I'm wondering if the raisiny character could reflect a longer-than-normal period of warm conditioning!

Kristen England said...


Long warm conditioning shouldn't have anything to do with the development of raisin character.

If the grist is similar to this one then I would guess the raisin character comes from some dark sugars added. That or some really dark crystal...but I haven't seen that in the logs. Its nearly always dark sugar or dark crystal.

I wonder if John is reading this and has any incite?

That being said, certain yeast can kick off a raisin/ fig character (Rochefort).

Kristen England said...

I have a feeling this beer is much darker than what I have listed. Probably right around 40EBC (19SRM).

I went over and over the logs but couldn't find any of the caramel coloring that was added to a lot of the beers. THere were a few stray numbers that seem to be in line with the amounts of said caramel added. So point short, if you want it darker and more 'correct' I would either add some Sinemar or the smallest touch of debittered black malt.

If you want more of that dark raisiny character that Gary was talking about, a 120L crystal could also be added. Its your beers, do as you wish.

Gary Gillman said...

Kristen, thanks for this, probably it was sugar or a dark caramel malt that accounted for this, a taste I have encountered in some Belgian beers as well, one again not quite to my liking. Achel's brown or double-type (from the Dutch Trappist brewery) has it although I like some of its other beers.

Raisin/fig sometimes denotes flavours from warm aging, e.g., in Madeira wine (recall Barnard's description of a two year old ale as having a "Madeira odour").

The current Old Harry probably is pasteurized. If it is, that would seem to rule out any real aging although some people feel the elapse of time can improve some stronger, pasteurized beers.

I think the current Old Harry is 6.5% ABV, in that range. I don't think it was that dark. It was a draft product incidentally when available at beerbistro in Toronto. It seems to appear only over the winter.

But your notes are very close to the current taste especially the caramel and apple, which speaks well I think of the recreation (its fidelity)!


P.S. If John is reading, I'd like to say too how remarkably good the current London Pride keg is that we get in Toronto. It is dispensed on handpump but apparently(from what I have heard and judging too by the taste) is a filtered pasteurized draft beer. Still, it has super-fresh palate and evident, classic English hopping. The malt flavours too are "true" and very good. It is close to London Pride in real ale form and much better I think than the bottled, canned and keg Pride of some years ago. The current canned Pride too is excellent but the hand-pulled keg version is the best of all the non-real ale versions and packagings I have tried.

John Keeling said...

Wow people brewing Fullers beers from 1962. I must try this at the brewery and taste our Hock and Old Harry against yours.

Trying to answer your questions

1)Mr Harry and Old Harry are two different beers and I think that all our exports have been Mr Harry. Harry is a name that crops up at Fullers because I think the beer was named in honour of Harry Fuller. I will check with Richard Fuller.

2) In 1962 we were using Redox tanks for warm conditioning. Luckily they were still in use when I joined the brewery in 1981. I think that the period of warm conditioning could have caused oxidation products to give a raison type flavour. We were simply not great at removing oxygen from bottled beers at that time. However we could also have added any type of sugar as a priming which would not be recorded in the brewing book therefore this flavour could have been from sugar too.

3)Gary- nice of you to comment about the Export Pride in kegs. You are correct that it is tasting fresher. This is due to two changes a)we now dry hop in tank with Golding's brewnets b) we have a new pasteuriuser which has greatly reduced the PU's. We are also experimenting with sterile filtration.

4) I do have a problem with keg beer being served through handpumps in case it is seen to be misleading. However when asked we always advise on how best to do this. If this is carried out incorrectly it is dangerous and also at the very least damages beer quality. When done correctly it merely mimics keg dispense. We cannot prevent people from using handpump style dispense for kegs.

I hope that answers some of your questions. I do enjoy reading this blog and the debates they provoke. I particulary like the beer style debates and often imagine Ron's face turning the same colour as the London Pride badges!

cheers John

Gary Gillman said...

Great information, thanks so much John. You are right that it was Mr. Harry that I tasted in Toronto over the winter, I mis-recalled the name due to the fact of both sharing the Harry element! Nonetheless I do feel Kristen's taste notes were close to what I recalled Mr. Harry was like (appley, toffee-like).

Good to hear that there are some process changes that back up the fact that keg London Pride (and ditto the canned version we get here) has never been better! I could tell the improvement and it makes all the difference for me (just had a pint of the keg last night).

I do not mind the handpump dispense of a keg beer here because to begin with, there is not the understanding in Canada of cask beer that there is in the U.K. So it is just an attractive method of dispense and the quality here is high, so the pubs doing it (perhaps not all are) are doing it right.

The Chiswick bitter in keg is available here too now, also excellent and with a similar fresh hop bouquet to the London Pride.

Occasionally we do get the odd cask-conditioned cask of Fuller's in Toronto. Hopefully more will come. I do feel that shipment times and methods being what they are today, it wouldn't be much different exporting cask beer (ESB at least) than keg. Provided local publicans were willing to carry it. But many are I understand.

Thanks much again for an illuminating note.